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Night Haunts: A Journey Through the London Night Hardcover – 24 Sep 2007
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"Sukhdev Sandhu s extraordinary echo-sounding of the contemporary London night lyrical, hallucinatory and harrowing by turns not only reveals the persistence of various forms of urban night-time in the face of the official image of a light-polluted, 24-hour time-zone of handy consumption, but makes an honourable addition to the literature of London as a space layered and haunted with the ghosts and traces of its history." --Times Literary Supplement
"With a writing style that mixes down- to-earth reportage with lyrical flights of fancy, Sandhu simultaneously builds up and dispels the mythology of London. Its more seductive qualities are revealed to be the workings of a great machine, devoted to the accumulation of capital and supported by legions of people who are there to mop up the aftermath. Night Haunts grew out of a project commissioned by the arts organisation Artangel. Like Artangel's best-known commission, Rachel Whiteread's 1993 plaster cast of an East End terrace, it turns the city inside out, exposing its innermost workings to the light of day." --The New Statesman
Seeing with a film-maker's eye and reporting in sharp language laden with pithy metaphors ... Sandhu offers some of the greatest insights we have into rarely described aspects of contemporary London ... This laconic, beautifully produced book is an enduring portrait of a city that manufactures fresh narratives as rapidly as they are revealed. Sandhu joins a small group of outstanding investigators into what remains in so many ways the world's richest city. --Michael Moorcock, Daily Telegraph
London at night, from Shakespeare's time to Dickens to Jack the Ripper, was always seen as a lawless orgy of depravity and pestilence, teeming with rogues and bandits. But is it now as bland and unthreatening as any new town? Sukhdev Sandhu journeys across London to find out whether the London night really has been rendered neutral by street lighting and CCTV cameras. Sandhu's forays see him prospecting in the London night with the people who drive its pulse, from the avian police to security guards, zookeepers and exorcists. He wades through the sewers, hangs out with pirate DJs and accompanies the marine patrol looking for midnight corpses. In a beautifully written and wonderfully illustrated book he seeks to reclaim the mystery and romance of the city - to revitalise the great myth of London for a new century.See all Product description
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The majority of reviewers here seem to find Sandhu's prose pretentious, but this is psychogeography, and it goes with the territory. Also, if the pretentiousness occasionally gives way to exhilarating, bravura writing such as the first chapter, about London's airborne police and their singular relationship with the city, then that's fine by me. A unique and fascinating book.
I did wish that he let the actual people speak for themselves more - you want to hear more of their insights - but Sandhu isn't trying to be Studs Terkel so once you accept that, the book takes on its own voice. My favourite chapters were on the avian police and the sleep researchers but all of the chapters reveal something new or startling about London - and the people of London. The sewer worker who said that during the day people really do behave like rats - climbing over each other to get to trains or exits without regard for one another. The way he says it with such disgust and the way he describes it - I can't look at my fellow commuters in the same way anymore. And I feel ashamed when I fall into that rat trap.
Little things like that make this book worthwhile as it makes you look at your surroundings anew. Now out of my way, I need to catch a train ...
contemporary London. Very poetic, and some of the best malapropisms
I've seen for a long time. At times it almost feels like it's almost trying too
hard to live up to its illustrious forbearers such as Mayhew, but it's still
worth giving this slim volume a read.
This is a slim volume, and the treatment of each subject is correspondingly brief. This meant that after having finished a chapter I did occasionally find myself wanting a little more. Nevertheless, Sandhu writes with great lyricism and I enjoyed the language a great deal. I generally prefer relatively straightforward writing, but felt that the book almost always managed to be expressive and exuberant without unnecessary complication or fussiness.
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